tv C-SPAN3 Programming CSPAN October 19, 2015 6:29pm-7:01pm EDT
implemented in an expansive and effective and flexible way. we're still waiting to see those happen. we're hopeful that it will come soon because we see it as one real improvement. another program is a provision that would allow for waivers to be given to people who are already here in the united states that need to leave the country in order to obtain their visa to return to the united states because they have something called unlawful presence. a few years ago the government created a system for allowing somebody to get a waiver to the bar to come back here. and now the government is going to expand that to apply to a larger group of individuals. we're very much looking forward to seeing that kind of a change come forward because it will help probably tens of thousands of families. so that's another provision. and there is just a lot of work to be done. we're looking forward to working with the government. i think they've been -- dhs and the other component entities have been proactive in having stake holder conversations and phone calls so there is an open
process. we look forward to that. >> i hope all of you will join me in thanking our panelists today. [ applause ] >> we do not have time for questions but we'll linger outside in the hallway for a couple of minutes and make room for the next panel. thank you. tonight on c spans's series landmark cases, by 1830 the mississippi river around new orleans had become a breeding ground for cholera and yellow fever. to address this problem louisiana allowed only one government-run slaughterhouse. crescent city, to operate in the city district. and the other houses took them to court. follow the slaughterhouse cases of 1873. we're joined by paul clement, former solicitor general and constitutional law attorney and michael ross author of the book
"justice of shattered dreams" to help tell the history of the time period in the south, the personal stories of the butchers and the state of things in new orleans as well as the attorneys and supreme court justices involved in this close decision. and be sure to join the conversation as we take your calls, tweets and facebook comments during the program using #landmarkcases. live tonight on c-span, c-span 3 and c-span radio. for background on each case, order your copy of the landmark cases companion book for $8.95 plus shipping. every five years the departments of agriculture and health and human services issue dietary guidelines and nutritional information to the public. the latest of which are expected to be released in december. the house agriculture committee looked at these guidelines attended by tom vilsack and sylvia burwell.
the hearing was chaired by congressman michael conaway of texas. >> well, good morning. let's go ahead and get started. mr. keller, would you open us with a prayer, please. >> dear heavenly father, we just ask that you bless this committee. we ask that you bless this government. we ask that you bless all those who lead this great nation. dear lord, we just ask that everything we do honor and please you in jesus' name i pray, amen. >> thank you. this committee of agriculture regarding the developments of the 2015 dietary guidelines for americans will come to order and i want to thank our witnesses for being here this morning. it is no small feat to get two of the secretaries of two of the most important agencies in government to come sit at the same table at the same time so i thank you, secretary vilsack and
burwell, for making it ham, we appreciate it. we're going to discuss the development of the 2015 dietary guidelines for americans. it's not our intent to legislate specific guidelines, however, we ask that the guidelines be developed in a transparent manner. it's a recommendation to the american people on how to make healthy food purchasing decisions to live a healthy lifestyle but it also forms a basis of federal nutrition policy, education, outreach efforts used by consumers and educators and health care professionals. it's essential the guidance can be trusted by the american people. to achieve this it must be based on sound and consistent and irrefutable science. it is congressionally man dated and according to the act the dga shall contain nutrition and dietary guidelines for the general public and be based on the scientific and medical knowledge current at the time the report is prepared and shall
be promoted by each federal agency. carrying out any food, nutrition or health program. and ensuring a sound development process is important because it is extremely difficult to reverse or change public policy once implemented without causing consumer confusion at a time when consumers are already subjected to conflicting and often contradictory nutrition and health information staying within the scope of the law by providing the public with science-based realistic and achievable information is more likely to contribute to public health outcomes. the process began in 2012 when there was created and appointed the 15 members to the dietary guidelines advisory committee. through this committee, all advisory committees must be chartered by the federal advisory act which means the guidelines must be subjective to the public for establishing and overseeing and terminating the committees.
this makes the committee solely responsible to the usda and the hhs who are then responsible for continually reviewing the committee's performance and process requirements which includes activities as detailed as approving all of the meeting agendas. it is therefore the responsibility of usda and hhs to maintain the scope and level of the dga. and i've weighed in our concerns about the process of develop to developing the guidelines. i raised concerns about the committee's report shortly after its release and called on you to extend the comment period, which you did. i appreciate it very much. you received over 29,000 public comments to the committee's report. many of which were developed by nutritionists and other experts in the study of human health. included in the submitted comments available for public viewing on the dga website were scientific studies and other evidence that observers assert had been ignored by the committee. as a result i repeatedly requested that each and every
comment be considered before the final guidelines are published. in may the ranking member and i saw in writing details on your plan to review the more than 29,000 comments. to make sure that the -- they were reviewed properly. your response to us on that plan, though, was less than sufficient so i look forward to hearing today on this matter. uncertainty in the process leads to concern about whether the committee's recommendations will maintain the scientific integrity necessary to be actionable by americans. it's my hope that the usda and hhs review of the 2015 recommendations that they are mindful -- in that review they are mindful of the process failures that lie squarely between each of the recommendations. it is imperative to hear assurances from each of you that americans will be ultimately presented with the best and most reliable information for making healthy food and beverage choices. again, thank you secretaries for being with us today and i look forward to our conversation. comments from the ranking member? >> thank you, mr. chairman. i welcome both secretary burwell
and secretary vilsack to the committee and look forward to your testimony. given that usda and hhs are still reviewing comments, we're probably getting ahead of ourselves here. but i do hope that today's testimony can shed more light on the process to establish new guidelines and what they will actually mean for our constituents. there's been a strong reaction to the dietary guidelines advisory committee report. i've heard concerns about future sodium targets, difficulties of small schools meeting the guidelines and what this could mean for cranberries and sugar. but these are mostly coming from those who are directly impacted, the industries, schools, medical community. we're not really hearing from the public. and i don't think the general public is paying much attention. for those who are, i think they are very skeptical of the whole process. for example, we were once told that butter and eggs were bad
for you. now i guess they're okay according to "the washington post" this morning they were wrong on milk as well. and i don't know how much government subsidized powder we bought because of it. so, people i think may be losing confidence in these guidelines. given the public skepticism maybe we should reconsider why we're doing this. is it because it's something that we've always done? maybe we should first look to expand on a provision of the 2008 farm bill that would help us understand more about what people are actually eating and then go from there. i am a little concerned that we've lost sight of what we're doing and there seems to be more focus on ideology and marketing food products than providing clear nutrition advice to the public. i hope we can have a good productive public hearing and achieve a good outcome. i know you'll do the best you can breaking through all the
noise and i thank the secretaries for appearing before us and i yield back. >> thank the gentleman. mrs. burwell has a hard stop at 11:30 because she's got an international flight to catch. with that, i don't know which one of you wants to go first. >> i'd be happy to, thank you, good morning. thank you, mr. chairman and ranking member peterman and the rest of the committee to discuss the dietary guidelines. i want to thank you for the interest in the guidelines and your work to support americans and a healthy agriculture sector. one of the most important responsibilities that our government is entrusted with is protecting the american public and that includes empowering them with the tools they need to make educated health decisions. families across america have looked to us for science-based dietary guidelines to serve as a framework for a nutritious eating and healthy lives. our guidelines also help lay a
foundation for preventing diet related health conditions such as obesity and heart disease. as is required by the national nutrition monitoring and related research act the departments update these regulations and guidelines every five years. the key elements that make up a healthy lifestyle remain consistent. fruits and vegetables, grains and lean proteins and limited amounts of saturated fats, added sugars and sodium. we anticipate these will continue to be the building blocks of the 2015 guidelines. updated to reflect the latest research and science as well as our current understanding of the connections between food and health. as part of our effort to rely on the best science available, we have appointed an independent advisory committee of nutrition and medical experts and practitioners to inform each addition. the 2015 advisory committee evaluated research and considered comments from the public to develop
recommendations included in its finished report. it is important to note that the advisory committee report is one input into the dietary guidelines. the guidelines themselves are written and reviewed by experts at both of our departments. in addition to the recommendations of the advisory committee, our departments' experts perform their own extensive review and consideration of public comments. in fact, as was mentioned, we received 29,000 written comments during the 75-day public comment period. as a result, the 2015 dietary guidelines will be informed by review of thousands of scientific papers and decades of nutrition and medical research as well as input from the public. we know that the guidelines are critical importance to many americans. they contribute to a culture of wellness and empower individuals to better manage their own health. help keep their families healthy, reduce the onset of
disease and reduce the amount of money that we spend on health care. they also provide guidance to public and private programs and support efforts to help our nation reach its highest standard of health. at hhs the dietary guidelines provide a roadmap for the nutrition, advice and services that we deliver such as chronic disease prevention efforts, food assistance programs and educational initiatives. hhs and usda are working together to finalize the 2015 dietary guidelines which are expected to be completed in december of this year. without a finished product i'm unable to comment on the final comment of the forthcoming edition at this time. i expect, however, that the new guidelines will continue to emfa size the importance of healthy eating habits and individual food choices. i want to thank you again for your interest in this topic as well as the feedback we've received. i know many of you have specific questions and concerns, and i want to assure you that we are taking your concerns into
consideration, and we're working hard to answer your questions as thoroughly as we can. as we are in the process of doing the guidelines. i look forward to continuing to work together and look forward to your questions today. thank you. >> thank you, secretary. secretary vilsack? >> thank you, mr. chairman and ranking member peterson and all the members of the committee. i want to thank the chair for the opportunity to be here today and i want to thank my colleague for the extraordinary work that she and her team have done in concert with the department of agriculture and getting us to this point today. i will tell you that i struggle with the dietary guidelines because i think it's important for people to understand precisely what they are and what they are not. these guidelines are a set of recommendations. based on a series of well-informed opinions that create a framework that is designed to encourage and to educate americans about what
they can do to increase their chances of preventing chronic diseases. this is not about treating disease. this is about trying to prevent chronic diseases. as a result, the guidelines that we formulate are and should be restricted by law to nutritional and dietary information. the advisory committee report which secretary burwell mentioned is not the guidelines and sometimes there's confusion about that. the report informs our work, but certainly does not and should not dictate it. only hhs and usda can and should write the guidelines based on a variety of inputs. this has been an open and transparent process. questions were posed by and to the advisory committee. a number of studies, indeed thousands of studies and tens of thousands of pages of documents were reviewed. those reviews went through a very strict and gold standard
process for determining what is the strongest, best and most available science. multiple public meetings took place. information was posted on the web. and we indeed received 29,000 comments as a result of the extended comment period of which 8,000 comments are probably considered unique. recognize that our process here is to determine the best available science and based on that and the preponderance of that we formulate the guidelines. i believe i have the same goal that secretary burwell has, had is to finish our work on time before the end of the year so that we can use these guidelines as directed by congress. so, i look forward to your comments and questions. and i think this hearing is an important opportunity for us to educate folks about what these guidelines are and what they are not. >> well, thank you. i got ahead of myself. let me mention the chairman requested other members to submit their opening statements
for the record and i've rudely failed to introduce secretary tom vilsack who is the secretary of the department of agriculture and the honorable sylvia burwell, secretary of the health and human services. two folks who didn't need an introduction and i didn't introduce you, so i apologize for that. the chair would remind members that they will be recognized for questioning in order of seniority. after that members will be recognized in order of arrival and i appreciate the members' understanding. i recognize myself for five minutes. ms. burwell, you said in your comments that the guidelines don't change substantially from one set to the next but yet the reports have gone from 57 pages of the 99 -- the commission reports, 99 -- or 57 pages and 95 to 571 pages for this one. so, i'm not sure we've gotten ten times better information today than we did in that point in time. as i mentioned in my opening statement the oversight we're conducting today is on the
development of the guidelines and concern for the integrity of the process and as a result recommendations the federal advisory committee act defines how advisory committees operate. the law put special emphasis on open meetings and chartering, public involvement, reporting. according to statute the federal advisory committee shall among other things require membership to be fairly balanced in terms of the points of view represented and the functions performed and contain appropriate provisions to make sure the advisory committee will not be overly influenced by appointments or special interests but will be the result of advisory committee's independent judgment. despite the statutory safeguards serious questions have been raised about the overall -- oversight overall process while it was ongoing. this tended to fuel concerns that members of the commission may have been appointed in order to achieve certain policy outcomes outside the legitimate purview of the advisory committee. i refer specifically to an op-ed
published in 2015 by former deputy secretary kathleen merger who serves at george washington university. the sustainability institute. she was serving as deputy secretary during the time that dgac was chartered and appointed. the suggestion of including a sustainability and tax issues by the dgac has been a topic of discussion for some time. it's been on topic of intense discussion for some time. i recognize that you both jointly published a blog yesterday acknowledging the sustainability is out of the scope of this exercise and identify i hope to get comments about tax issues as well. i likewise -- i'm likewise sure that you recognize the inclusion of these issues in this process could have resulted in misguided recommendations which would have ill effects on consumer habits. the counter to potential bias in the process is the public comment period. 75-day period was the public's first real opportunity to review the 571-page document. in your written statement, secretary burwell, you mentioned that usda and hhs staff have already fully reviewed all the
comments. you said that you focused most heavily on those with scientific justification. help us understand, then, what's going on right now. what have you done with the studies such as those evaluating low carbohydrate consumption patterns since the review has been taking place? >> i think there were a number of issues raised. and i apologize i could not hear your final question. >> what have you been doing -- we've got the study in. then you've been studying the comments and the report itself. can you talk to us about how you've been evaluating other information like low carbohydrate consumption patterns as a part of that review? >> so, with regard to one issue that you touched on earlier that i want to go ahead and address, i think you asked which was the tax issue and the question of tax policy. like our comments yesterday in the blog that secretary vilsack and i put out about the issue of sustainability, i think while we are not -- because we are not -- we haven't received
recommendations from our staff speaking to the specifics of what are in the dietary guidelines, i think that's a question of scope like the sustainability question and that is not an issue that we would address. so on the tax issue when i address that. with regard to the process that we are now going through and how whether it's the carbohydrate issue or any of the specific issues, what is happening is we receive the guidelines. we receive the report of the committee. our staffs are reviewing that. at the same time we are reviewing all of the public comments that we have received. and in addition to that we are bringing in the experts from all of our departments to make sure that they weigh in as we do the consideration. and for us that includes the food and drug administration, the nih, the center for disease control, the office of the assistant secretary for health and any others. so that's the process that we are using now to review -- >>-- could have things in them that weren't necessarily
directly reported in the recommendations from the commission -- from the commit at this? you could have outside your own wisdom, your own thoughts would be reflected in the guidelines as well? >> in terms of the expert advice of our staffs that exist with regard to the question of studies and pieces of work, i think it is important to reflect what secretary vilsack said, which is, there has been a systemic literature review with regard to the studies and that's part of keeping integrity to the process. with regard to our experts who are constantly involved in those issues, yes, they will be a part of that process. >> thank you, ranking member? >> thank you, mr. chairman. i think you both know that sodium not only provides a benefit in making product shelves -- making products shelf stable, it also improves taste and is an important food safety component in cheese. studies have shown there's an inconsistent and insufficient evidence to conclude that lowering sodium intake below
2,300 milligrams per day reduces risk of cardiovascular disease and the dietary guidelines advisory committee agreed. so, why has the committee continued to support further sodium reduction and is this something that you'll be able to address in your guidelines? >> let me take a stab at that. you know, first of all, i think it's -- again, i think we're going to probably respond to a number of these questions by pointing out these guidelines have not been formulated yet and we can't comment on the specifics of what the guidelines will be because we haven't had an opportunity to prepare them and review them. having said that, in the advisory committee basically is formulated, they go through a secretary burwell indicated, of reviewing a variety of studies. there no doubt were studies that linked prehypertension, hypertension to sodium consumption. they probably looked at the national academy of medicine, studies in terms of sodium, and they probably concluded there was evidence relating to sodium
consumption and these chronic diseases which is why they have recommended what they've recommended. the reality of this situation is that science changes and we learned more information and that's why it's important to have a process that we have in place to review what the advisory committee recommends than to have public input, to get public comments, to have our own staff review studies based on information they've accumulated during the course of the five-year period since the last dietary guidelines and to refer back to the last set of guidelines which is a foundation for this set of guidelines. so, congressman, i can't comment specifically on why the advisory committee did what they did because they sort of operate independent. we don't inject ourselves into that process. but we do basically take their input into consideration along with many, many other studies, many, many other opinions to try
to formulate the best set of guidelines and framework for the country. >> thank you, secretary. i don't know if you both have seen "the washington post" story today, secretary vilsack, i guess you've seen it. >> i've seen it and i've read the books. this is what has caused my concerns about what they are and are not. >> my concern is we have these guidelines that have pushed people away from eggs and butter and milk and so forth and then they come back and say, well, we were wrong. and so my question is for both of you, what are we going to do to make sure that doesn't happen in the future? first of all, do you agree with this and, second of all, how are we going to keep this from happening? why are we going off on these tangents, you know, if we have a
process that's so heavily vetted? >> i would say a couple of things. first, the consistency over time for most issues has been there and it's right to point out with regard to the issue specifically of dietary cholesterol, there has been a change over time. and i think a couple things to answer your question, first, for the most part, things are consistent over time. second, we need to make sure we use the most scientific evidence we can and there has been an evolution in change and that does get reflected in what the advisory committee has given us. they no longer will do recommendations based on expert opinion. instead, they will only do recommendations based on the science and that is a change that will occur. i think the other thing that is an important thing to reflect is that in some cases science does change and in case of our understanding of blood cholesterol versus dietary cholesterol there is an evolution in understanding the difference of those and what they cause and i think we want to be prepared to make sure we
review in a rigorous way times it happens. i think there's not one simple answer to the problem that you raised but a number of pieces of how we can work to get to a place where we have the most consistent science-based advice. >> and let me add that congress has directed us to take a look at the preponderance of that available science which suggests, a term that i'm familiar with in the practice of law, it suggests that there may be studies on both sides of an issue. and it is important and necessary for folks to weigh the studies. and one of the challenges of this is to distinguish between one single quality study that is absolutely solid versus a bulk of studies over time that may have a slightly different view. and this is the challenge here. and it's a reflection of the fact all of this is evolving. you're not ever going to have something that's basically a fact about this because science
evolves. we learn more. we understand more and i would hope that we would be flexible enough to appreciate that and to take that into consideration. >> well, i thank both of you for your observations and i think you've made some points but i just want you to understand from my constituents most of them don't believe this stuff anymore. you have lost your credibility with a lot of people. and they are just flat out ignoring this stuff. and so that's why i say i wonder why we're doing this? from what i'm hearing from my constituents. >> can i respond to that for just a second? here's the challenge, though. we take these guidelines, we incorporate them in our website, choose my plate. we've had over 290 million hits on choose my plate. it may very well be that there are folks who are concerned about this, but i still think there's merit in it as long as people understand what they are and what they're not. they are not, you know, a hard and fast set of rules. they are a guideline, a set of guidelines. a framework.
they're not about treating disease. they're about preventing it. >> thank you. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to go back to something that the chairman was asking, and i want to make sure that we are all on the same page here. so taxes are off the table as far as consideration and the guidelines, is that correct? >> with regard to the question of whether it be a tax recommendation in our dietary guidelines, we do not believe that is something that is in scope of the work that we are doing. >> secretary vilsack? >> well, that's not within the scope. it's not dietary. it's not nutrition. it doesn't belong in this context. there are many other ways that conversation should be taken as is the case with sustainability. it doesn't belong here. it belongs elsewhere. i'm happy to have conversations with folks who are so interested. >> sustainability, both of you agree then, sustainability and
taxes are off the table as far as these recommendations are concerned? >> both important issues that we believe should have conversations but not in the context of this document. >> thank you. hhs and usda have always stated that they have looked to appoint members to the dgac so it consists of nationally recognized experts in the fields of nutrition and health. as you know the dgac is subject to the federal advisory committee act used throughout the federal government. this act is designed to ensure that the advice of various advisory committees formed over the years is objective and accessible to the public. the act was formalized a process of establishing an opening on operating and terminating these bodies from 2015 once selected and appointed the dgac was composed of academics including professors, epidemiologists and even a physician scientist.
in a departure from prior dietary guidelines, nutritionists and food scientists were not selected to serve on this dgac. understandably questions are being raised by the fact no food industry scientists were included in the dgac committee. after the dgac had disbanded, the former advisory committee members decided to hold a public event acting in their capacity as dgca members which they were not according to the act. based on the charter, is it your responsibility to make recommendations to both of your departments, which is then developed for final recommendations for the public. it is, however, not the responsibility for the dgac to education the general public on a report that still needed to be considered by the hhs before claiming nutritional